Frank Ocean, Blonde © Boys Don't Cry

Thoughts: Frank Ocean, ‘Blonde’


★★★★½

Frank Ocean • Blonde • Boys Don’t Cry • Release: 8.20.16

It’s been a long time coming – a helluva long time to be precise – but Frank Ocean has returned. After tickling every critic and consumer’s fancy alike on Channel Orange back in 2012, he finally follows up with brilliant sophomore album, Blonde.  Blonde is a tour de force because it is clever, eclectic, and ‘left of center.’  Frank Ocean transcends R&B – can he even be categorized as R&B?  The fact that this is debatable – that his status in R&B is a polarizing one – further contributes to his distinctiveness as a musician and a true artist.

Is Frank Ocean perfect? No. We haven’t forgotten his lackadaisical live performances that threatened to derail his near-perfect studio versions. But, listening to Blonde and the subject matter and introspection conveyed throughout, it’s difficult not to fall for the bait.  The bait, in essence, has us “feeling way too damn good.” Check out the full, track-by-track review at the link below.  Frank Ocean, Blonde © Boys Don't Cry

Urban alternative musician Frank Ocean returns with his highly anticipated sophomore album, ‘Blonde’. He makes following up a masterpiece look easy. The post Frank Ocean Intrigues on Sophomore Album ‘Blonde’ 6 more words

via Frank Ocean Intrigues on Sophomore Album ‘Blonde’ — The Musical Hype

Photo Credits: Boys Don’t Cry 
Suicide Squad - The Album © Atlantic

25 Chart Takeaways: Suicide Squad Debuts at No. 1


Suicide Squad - The Album © Atlantic

For a second consecutive week, there is a new no. 1 album on the Billboard 200.  After the top-spot had been dominated by Drake (Views), last week, DJ Khaled (Major Key) ended the run.  This week, the soundtrack to box office hit Suicide Squad easily debuts at no. 1 on the Billboard 200.  What’s amazing is how big the gap between the impact of albums nos. 1 and 2 was this week.  Beyond Suicide Squad and the bridesmaid status of Drake, there are many other chart stories worth checking out from the Billboard 200 dated August 27, 2016.

  1. Suicide Squad: The Album easily locks down the no. 1 spot on the Billboard 200.
  1. Drake (Views) spends his second consecutive week at no. 2.
  1. Skillet scores the week’s second highest debut with Unleashed, which bows at no. 3.
  1. Blake Shelton gets a boost this week as If I’m Honest ascends from no. 9 to no. 4 in its 12th charting week.
  1. Now 59 debuts modestly at no. 5.
  1. DJ Khaled takes a tumble this week. Major Key slides from no. 1 to no. 7 in week two.
  1. DJ Snake takes album Snake to no. 8, the final debut in the top 10 of the Billboard 200.
  1. Cody Johnson just misses the top 10. Gotta Be Me settles for a no. 11 start on the BB200.
  1. Gucci Mane sees Everybody Looking slip eight spots (no. 11 to no. 19) in its third charting week. Everybody Looking debuted at no. 2 behind Drake.
  1. Hillary Scott & The Scott Family see Love Remains drop 21 spots from no. 7 to no. 28.
  1. O.A.R. returns to the Billboard 200 this week as XX debuts modestly at no. 31.
  1. The Cadillac Three (Bury Me In My Boots) enters the Billboard 200 at no. 34.
  1. Jake Owen had an abysmal second week. American Love free falls from no. 4 to no. 50.
  1. Chris Lane didn’t exactly light up the charts. Girl Problems debuts quietly at no. 55.
  1. Fantasia crashes and burns this week. The Definition Of… falls 60 spots from no. 6 to no. 66. Honestly, there’s nothing more than you can say but #Damn Fantasia.
  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers’ The Getaway slides 29 spots from no. 42 to no. 71 after just eight weeks on the chart.
  1. Dinosaur Jr., Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not debuts at no. 72.
  1. Nick Jonas slips out of the top-100 as Last Year Was Complicated falls from no. 74 to no. 101.
  1. Maxwell slips out of the top-100 as blackSUMMERS’night slides from no. 89 to no. 103.
  1. Nick Fradiani earns the worst debut of any American Idol winner. Hurricane debuts at no. 121 on the Billboard 200!
  1. NEEDTOBREATHE continues an unexceptional run with HARD LOVE. The album slips from no. 87 to no. 128 this week.
  1. Prince’s Purple Rain re-enters the Billboard 200 at no. 131. The Very Best of Prince falls, meanwhile (no. 88 to no. 146)
  1. Jason Derulo slides 50 spots as compilation Platinum Hits drops from no. 83 to no. 133.
  1. Marc E. Bassy’s latest EP, Groove People, debuts at no. 148.
  1. Slim Thug, American King debuts at no. 179.

An expanded version of 25 Chart Takeaways (BB Grooves) appears on The Musical Hype every Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Atlantic
Kanye West, The Life of Pablo

Kanye West – More Good Than Bad?


Musicians are complex people.  Being a musician personally, we beat to our own drum.  For some of us, keeping a steady beat seems to be near impossible.  Kanye West is one of those.  The man, regardless of personal opinions of him, is quite talented.  Most might be shocked to know that since 2000, he’s won a whopping 21 Grammys.  Also, he’s had “pop” success on the Billboard Hot 100 – that only happens every so often with rappers.

As science puts it, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  In the case of “Mr. West,” for every accomplishment, he seems to misstep.  Mainly, West’s mouth gets him into a world of trouble.  Taylor Swift is the biggest faux pas.  But there’s also former President George W. Bush, the infamous “Famous” video, and a near mishap with Beck.  Sigh – Mr. West is one of a kind.

You be the judge. Is Kanye West more good than bad? Is he the devil? Check out a full analysis – in list form – about West.  The link (via The Musical Hype)  is featured below. And if you haven’t checked out what all the Hype is about – do that!

In the latest edition of our column Pros & Cons, one of the music industry’s most polarizing musicians is profiled – Kanye “I Am a God” West. 13 more words

via Pros & Cons: Kanye West — The Musical Hype

Photo CreditG.O.O.D / Def Jam
Fantasia, The Definition of... © RCA

Favorite Fantasia Songs?!


R&B fans – better yet Fantasia fans, what is your favorite song from her catalogue? Personally, “Bittersweet” tickles my fancy (Back To Me, 2010).  After examining all five of Fantasia’s albums (including The Definition Of), I selected a favorite and a least favorite from each.  Besides “Bittersweet” what made the list? Check it out at the link below!

Faves & Least Faves objectively and subjectively examines the best (favorite) songs and the worst (least favorite) songs from a musician’s discography. The post Faves & Least Faves: Fantasia… 6 more words

via Faves & Least Faves: Fantasia — The Musical Hype

Photo Credit: 19/RCA
Jacob Sartorius • ‘Hit or Miss’ – Single • TM3 Music Group

Jacob Sartorius: Wunderkind or Total Miss?


Is Jacob Sartorius a true wunderkind or is he more “hit or miss?” 

Online, there’s one kid who is getting his fair share of hate.  That is Musical.ly sensation Jacob Sartorius.  The 13-year old made plenty of buzz when he dropped single “Sweatshirt.” “Sweatshirt” wasn’t exactly well-received.  Take a listen, and it’ll be blatantly obvious why.  Sartorius has returned in all his pubescent glory with “Hit or Miss.” If you’re thinking that Jacob walked right into that one considering the title, you’d be correct.

“Hit or Miss” fires folks up at their most subjective.  Even objectively, it’s hard to get past the sheer corniness of Sartorius’ heavily autotune pipes, not to mention the rapping.  Furthemore, doesn’t reference “Casper” and “Blues Clues” lose all of your street cred? Sure, Sartorius had none to lose but still…

Enough rambling. Check out my incredibly kind thoughts towards J.S. below, if you dare! And please, check out The Musical Hype!

13-Year Old Musical.ly sensation Jacob Sartorius releases a follow-up single to the much maligned “Sweatshirt,” “Hit or Miss.” Sartorius sings & raps. The post Track Review: Jacob Sartorius, ‘Hit or Miss’ 6 more words

via Track Review: Jacob Sartorius, ‘Hit or Miss’ — The Musical Hype

Photo Credit: TM3 Music Group
Justin Bieber, What Do You Mean © Def Jam

Is Justin Bieber the Good Guy or the Bad Guy?


What’s the verdict on the polarizing Justin [Drew] Bieber? Do the pros outweigh the cons? On The Musical Hype, I have began a new series called Pros & Cons where I choose a musician and compile a list of the good and bad about the artist, whether it’s musical or not.  Who better to highlight the inauguration than the Biebz!

Justin Bieber is polarizing. Polarizing is a fitting characterization given the reactions he receives. We’re going to break down Bieber’s pros and cons! The post… 11 more words

via Pros & Cons: Justin Bieber — The Musical Hype

Photo credit: Def Jam
Keith Sweat, Dress to Impress © RAL:Keith Sweat

A Quiet Music Shopping Week, 7.22.16


Ah, it’s Friday and you know what the means? New music! Unfortunately, July 22, 2016 is a quiet release date, even with much more modest sales numbers as of late.  Things crank up a bit more next week, not to mention August, the transitional month into the loaded fourth quarter.  But if you need something new to add to your iPod or Spotify favorites, perhaps Keith SweatLil Durk, or Stephen Marley can do that for you.

Ah, the fourth shopping week in July! Unfortunately, it’s hard to justify an exclamation mark for the new albums arriving Friday, July 22. None stand out.

via Music Shopping List: Lil Durk, Reliant K & More — The Musical Hype

Photo CreditRAL/Keith Sweat
Michael Kiwanuka, Love & Hate © Interscope

Don’t Sleep On Michael Kiwanuka!


Too often, we get comfortable as music listeners. By comfort, we prefer the ‘same old things’ or we get caught up in trendiness. Trendiness and conformity don’t allow us to become more multidimensional music listeners.  Commercial music, hence, ruins us sometimes.

Okay enough ranting, what’s the point Brent? British R&B singer/songwriter Michael Kiwanuka rarely graces dinner table conversation.  He should, even if you’re asking yourself Who is he?  With R&B as “cool  as the coolest of cucumbers,” this dude can sing. Not only can he sing, he writes meaningful songs and uses real instruments.  There was a time where an album like Love & Hate would be more common, but alas, this deep, thoughtful LP is now the exception.

Tired of conformity? Join the movement of the exception my friends. To quote Anthony Hamilton, “the doors of the church are wide open.” Not quite the same context of the song “Take You Home” or of the invitation given the by the pastor, but hopefully you catch my drift.  Need a guide to delve into this deepness? Check out my passionate thoughts on Mr. Kiwanuka’s awesome sophomore album, which includes highlights like “Black Man in a White World.” 

Michael Kiwanuka assembles a superb effort with sophomore LP Love & Hate. The singing, songwriting, and production are top-notch. The post Michael Kiwanuka Shines on Sophomore LP ‘Love & Hate’ 6 more words

via Michael Kiwanuka Shines on Sophomore LP ‘Love & Hate’ — The Musical Hype

Photo Credit: Polydor UK
Shawn Mendes, Illuminate © Island

Track Reviews: Demi, Shawn Mendes & John Newman


Three artists: Demi Lovato, Shawn Mendes & John Newman. Three tracks: “Body Say,” “Ruin” “Olé.” Three track reviews…linked below. See who tickled my fancy the most.

On Demi Lovato’s latest single “Body Say,” it’s clear that sex is the M.O. It’s not merely innuendo, but brutal honesty from the gifted pop singer. 16 more words

via Track Review: Demi Lovato, ‘Body Say’ — The Musical Hype

Shawn Mendes shines on latest single “Ruin.” It’s a soulful, memorable, and well-written. The single that shows Mendes maturing and “stepping up his game.” The post… 13 more words

via Track Review: Shawn Mendes, ‘Ruin’ — The Musical Hype

John Newman has some nice ideas happening during “Olé.” That said, the single isn’t nearly as electrifying as “Love Me Again” or “Losing Sleep.”

via Track Review: John Newman, ‘Olé’ — The Musical Hype

Blink-182, California © BMG Rights Management

25 Chart Takeaways: Blink-182 End Drake’s Dominant Chart Run


After weeks and weeks of agony at the hands of one sick Canadian (Drake), someone else was FINALLY able to dethrone the god (note: notice god is lowercase considering Drake isn’t the Most High).  Blink-182 takes California to no. 1 on the Billboard 200 after nine long, arduous weeks with Drake’s Views reigning.  Well Drizzy, the reign is over this week buddy!

But alas, it’s not all about Blink-182 and Drake.  There are many more chart takeaways that must be shared with the world…as if you couldn’t read the Billboard 200 chart dated July 23,2016 for yourselves lazy folk! Just kidding…here are this week’s 25 Chart Takeaways!

  1. In the “blink of an eye” the top of the charts changed. That would be total BS of course considering Drake spent nine weeks at no. 1. Blink-182 gets their day in the son, Tom DeLonge-less as California gets it done in a robust way at no. 1.
  1. Poor Drake slips to an unfamiliar spot during his dominance with Views – no. 2. Shed a tear, shed a tear…
  1. The person everyone should be crying about is Maxwell. What happened to my boy? The numbers weren’t in his favor in the least as blackSUMMERS’night settled for no. 3. Can’t wait seven years to release an album Max!
  1. It’s always awesome to be Epic AF. Who doesn’t aspire to such standards? Pretty awesome to be the compilation of the same title, which slips one spot to no. 9 this week.
  1. Logic’s surprise mixtape Bobby Tarantino debuts at no. 16 on the Billboard 200. Why? Streaming and track sales from singles “Flexicution” and “Wrist.” He can’t flex as much as Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo or Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book, which debuted sounder.
  1. After two weeks gracing the top 10 those Red Hot Chili Peppers are done! The Getaway slips eight spots from no. 9 to no. 17.
  1. Logic wasn’t the only rapper who got in on the mixtape chart action. Desiigner’s New English seals the deal at no. 22.
  1. “Can I get a hallelujah?” Yes, let the church, rather “My Church” say yaassss! Maren Morris sees her Hero jump 26 spots from no. 64 to no. 38.
  1. Not too many folks drank Snoop Dogg’s Coolaid. Maybe they were afraid it was spiked… anyways, Coolaid debuts modestly at no. 40. Funny, Snoop Dogg actually releases his first rap album in years and nobody partakes. 
  1. That spike in sales didn’t last long for Radiohead. A Moon Shaped Pool slips 18 spots from no. 23 and no. 41. Thom Yorke and Nick Jonas have something in common (see #16).
  1. True Sadness indeed! The Avett Brothers free fall from no. 3 to no. 44 in week two. 41 spots! Cue up weary emoji!
  1. YG is having an unsuccessful chart run with Still Brazy. This week, the set’s third, Still Brazy slips 24 spots (no. 33 to no. 57).
  1. Somebody decided to “stand by” Rachel Platten as Wildfire ascends 62 spots from no. 120 to no. 58. Maybe it was all those “Angels in Chelsea.”
  1. Hopefully those American Authors have much more to live for than their album What We Live For. Why? The album sneaks on the Billboard 200 at no. 60.
  1. Kiiara’s EP Low Kii Savage jumps from no. 114 to no. 78. No. 78 marks a new peak position.
  1. Silent Planet takes over the no. 85 spot with Everything Was Sound. Apparently it wasn’t as “sound” as anticipated given the chart position…no shade of course…
  1. Paul Simon tumbles once more. Stranger To Stranger slips from no. 68 to no. 88 in week five.
  1. Chelsea Grin’s Self Inflicted debuts at no. 105.
  1. Maybe Magic! would’ve been better served using secondary colors… Primary Colours debuts unimpressively at no. 124. No, I’m not being the least bit “Rude!”
  1. Roy WoodsWaking At Dawn starts at no. 127.
  1. Logic gets another spot on 25 Chart takeaways this week! The Incredible True Story improves 26 spots from no. 130 to no. 156. Debut album Under Pressure moves up 39 spots (no. 179 to no. 140).
  1. The Human Condition continues to get worse. Jon Bellion’s debut slides 28 spots from no. 118 to no. 146.
  1. Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound actually improves in its sophomore week. The album ascends from no. 185 to no. 159.
  1. Game of Thrones: Music From The HBO Series Season 6 plummets from no. 27 to no. 174. “All men albums must die slide down the charts or something like that!”
  1. Sara Watkins eked out a debut on the Billboard 200. Young In All The Wrong Ways debuts at no. 200. Cutting it close there Sara, cutting it close!